Tag Archives: retirement

I got the call

24 Mar


My stomach was messy. By the end of the day there would certainly be the expected and violent reaction of my innards. I’d better stay close to my bathroom.

Yesterday I was waiting for a call from the bishop. 

Fourteen pastors are being appointed to take up new assignments this summer. Since I am retiring at the end of June, one of them is to be assigned here to St. Andrew. Someone else will live in the house that has been mine for fourteen years. Someone else will sit in the presider’s chair at church where I have sat during Mass all these years.

Why was my stomach messing with me? I am not the one being re-assigned. I have chosen to leave.

I was told to be accessible by phone from 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The call would come from the bishop sometime within those five hours.

Getting testy and snippy with a couple people in our office, as I do when I am frustrated or when something is in my charge but out of my control, I went to church. Yes, taking my cell phone with me.

My ringtone, named “Bulletin” on my new iPhone, sounded. It was from “Chancery Archdiocese.” I did not have to ask whose voice that was on the other end.

The bishop gave me the name of the priest who will be coming to the parish, asked me not to tell the staff for several days, suggested that I make an announcement at all Masses this Sunday, and requested that I call the priest. Repeat: keep the name to myself for several days, in order to let all the people of the parish hear the message at about the very same time, hence the reason for waiting until Sunday Masses.

I really, really, really want to tell my staff who their new pastor (their new boss) will be. But I will follow the protocol given to me by the bishop.

My leaving is all the more real for me now, knowing the name of the priest who will have his future in Milford and at St. Andrew. Maybe that is why my stomach was messing with me. I am actually leaving. And I do not usually keep things from my staff that are significant to their work and their working relationships in the parish. Maybe that is why my stomach was messing with me.

A week from now this will not feel so big. But for now …

my stomach is messing with me.

retired prayer

23 Mar
FullSizeRender 4
Maybe it is as much retry as it is retire.
Important things sometimes get set aside as we attend to urgent things. Some important things get overlooked. Some important things get neglected. Some important (and difficult) things get pushed aside and avoided, and therefore remain unresolved.
People ask me what I am going to do, when I retire from the administrative duties of being a pastor. When I tell them that I am going to do nothing, almost always I am asked, “What do you mean by nothing?”
By nothing I mean read, think, pray, write – that kind of “nothing,” the kind of nothing I did not do often enough when I was doing “something.” For the first three months of my retirement I am going to try to think of myself as being on sabbatical, like having three months of Sundays, ninety Sabbath days in a row.
One of the new things waiting for me in my new retirement place is a book of prayers that is used by the seminarians and priests of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
FullSizeRender 2The Pontifical North American College is the school of theology to which bishops from throughout the United States send a seminarian or two for the four years of study and formation before being ordained a priest.
No, I did not go to North American College. I wanted to go there; I really, really, really wanted to go there, but I was not sent. Two of my classmates were chosen to go. I stayed home to study theology in Norwood, Ohio. They were brighter than I was, I know, and more well rounded by other skills and interests, but that knowledge did not seem to soften the blow. One of them was a particular friend of mine, and we had talked about how much fun it would be to meet up with another friend of ours who had gone the year before. We had planned to go together, and for the three of us to be together in Rome. But it was not our decision. That decision belonged to our college seminary faculty. Their decision did include him and did not include me.
Yes, I felt passed over. I still hang on to resentment, and every so often it sneaks out. Do you know how that sort of thing works? Neither of my two classmates who went to NAC, as it is referred to by those who went there, which I did not, which I think I may have mentioned – neither of my two classmates who went to the North American College are priests today. One was never ordained; the other was ordained, but left the ministry after about three years. Can you hear the still present bitterness and lingering disappointment in my voice? After all these years, I still can’t seem to let it go.
Maybe some moments in my retired prayer with one of the prayers from this book will help retire some of the negative and toxic debris left behind by holding on to something in life that was not to be. Yes, I know that it probably “was for the best,” and that it probably “was meant to be,” but that did not make it easy or fun. I can still remember standing on the pier in New York city back in August of 1971, waving goodbye to my two classmates, as the ship pulled away, with fog horns blowing and streamers flying, for its weeklong voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, during which they would be studying Italian with their new classmates.
It is now time, and well overdue, for me to wave goodbye to something else.

may the mercy of God rest me

20 Mar
As I walked into my retirement residence, once the papers were signed and it was really mine and really real that I would one day be living there, a prayer and a blessing came from somewhere within me: “God, please make this home healthy, happy and holy.”
The very first thing I carried into my new [healthy, happy and holy] home was a book. It  is waiting for my arrival.
My hope is to be able to do a lot of reading and reflecting and praying in my upcoming days of less administration/pastor responsibilities. I will not stop being a priest, maybe even become more of a priest, in the days ahead. Perhaps it will be a time of retrieving something of being a priest that has been set aside or neglected as the years have been spent. That is my hope.
The book that I have carried to my new, future residence is one that Pope Francis has said was very significant book for him. It will be the first book that I will read in my new home, come July 1.
May the mercy of God rest me. Hmmm. As I just typed that, it stopped me. I wondered if it was a mistake. But I leave it. There may be more in those words than I realize.
May my new home be healthy, happy and holy.
May the mercy of God rest me.

time for a second honeymoon

1 Jul

Today is July 1, 2014.

It is the first day of my last year at St. Andrew, and the first day of my final year until retirement from parish administration.

I have been at St. Andrew for thirteen years. It will be fourteen years at my retirement, one year from now.

July 1st of next year will be a new first for me, indeed.

I have been married for 39 years to my spouse, the Church. I was engaged at the age of 16 (when I entered the seminary).

Next year when we reach 40 years, it will be time for a second honeymoon.



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